Smaller Loan, Less Money For Consultants Options For Historic Ne - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Smaller Loan, Less Money For Consultants Options For Historic Neighborhood Development

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Augusta, GA -

It's helping transform a neighborhood, and to keep the Laney Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods redevelopment going, Augusta's Housing and Development Department is seeking a $2.5 million loan from Augusta Commissioners.

"Sometimes, we just come up with one option time and time again, there are a lot of different opportunities out there and we need to look at them," says Commissioner Mary Davis.

Commissioner Mary Davis has a different option: give the project a loan for six months funding, and after that time, the city can examine how the money is being spent.

"We want to look at some of these salaries in terms of consultants," says Davis.

Between consultants and marketing, the redevelopment project is running a bill of $51,000 a month and since 2010, more than $2.5 million has been spent on consultants and marketing.

"We really need to look at that with a fine toothed comb...what are our other options," says Davis.

Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson supports the full loan amount, but agrees $51,000 a month is too much to continue to pay for consultants and marketing. 

"I think we need to look at cutting that back. We just can't afford to do it at this point, because that $2.5 million would be eaten up quite quickly if we go at the pace we're going now," says  Johnson.

Davis wants a smaller loan to cover the project for six months, but the worry is...without adequate money, can the Laney Walker-Bethlehem project keep going?

"No, it can't survive with that, George. I just can't see how you could do it, six months is not enough time to get anything accomplished and say, 'this is where the money is spent'," says Johnson.

We talked to Augusta Housing and Development Director Chester Wheeler Thursday afternoon and asked him if the Laney Walker-Bethlehem project would be hurt by getting only six months worth of funding, instead of the full $2.5 million.

Wheeler said he did not have an answer for that, but Commissioners will be looking for answers when they take up the loan request at Monday's Administrative Services Committee meeting.

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